Every parent goes through these moments of reflective melancholy watching their offspring go from first steps to running the race we call life in what seems like overnight. I'm no different...but I am very fortunate.
So far (I say with crossed fingers), the journey has been mostly uneventful from a derogatory standpoint on her part. I wish I could say the same about her sixteen years on my own behalf. While she has been and continues to be an utmost priority for yours truly, she was my first, and I look back at many things I would do differently today to give her the absolute best advantage at succeeding in adulthood. Her two younger sisters will definitely benefit from those lessons of experience.
I'm often accused of being just too hard on my teenager. I can live with that. My expectations are high but beyond a doubt obtainable on her part with just thought and effort. Our home has one guiding principle that all other rules or expectation fall under...priorities are and always will be- 1. God 2. Family and 3. Education. I would be remiss not to credit my own mother for those values I now hold so dear...I just hate it took me so long to realize how important those things are in life when properly aligned.
While I'm dolling out gratitude, I know in my heart things would most likely be very different in my life today without Mrs. Tony C. Her virtuous fingerprints are all over the life of my oldest...even though she's not her own. God smiled on me in a tremendous way the day my eyes opened to His will for my life. He then blessed me further when I opened them to find a beautiful young woman with the patience and perseverance of Job in front of me. My teenager may or may not realize it today, but she has been living and hopefully learning from the very best of role models.
I remember the day in this picture as if 2003 were just this past weekend...Mrs. Tony C trying to figure out the game of professional hockey while my oldest reflects the nonsensical pose of youth. Great memories.
Thinking back to my own sixteenth birthday brings a flood of emotions that range from jubilance to utter shame. If you're an atheist that happens to read this blog which is based on the Christian perspective of this old bloke...hear me out. You need no other proof of God than the very fact I personally have survived to be nearly a half century old...we need to talk. Oh I know I got a few amens on that statement!
Of course, these days about the most reckless thing I do is eat prepackaged salads from Walmart. No more jumping out of this or diving under that...I've wised with age as well as mellowed. I often tell my teenager she's one of the mentally toughest people, not just kids, I know. Sure, there's a streak of impulsiveness, but hey...all things considering...she never tried to make her own hang glider. The jury hasn't even been seated yet for her sister, the Crazy Tomato. Thank God for Mrs. Tony C again!
Sweet sixteen is truly a benchmark moment in life. Not quite old enough to be a young adult but no longer young enough to plead plausible ignorance, sixteen kicks off what most people consider the best years of life...but I'm not sure I'm in that club. Don't get me wrong, I had a blast from sixteen to say...thirty-five. Okay. So I stretched it out a bit longer than most people, but the reason I don't consider those the best years of my life boils down to a single word...joy.
If you personally know God, then you also know the difference between His joy and fun or happiness or even enjoyment are vast...yet truly interdependent.
If you're reading this sweetheart...take the broken-record adage you've heard from me all your life of don't be a victim and replace it now with that last sentence. I love you with all my heart Roo... Happy Birthday.